L’Osservatore Romano published a transcript on Monday of the press conference Pope Benedict XVI held during the flight from Rome to Prague for his visit to the Czech Republic, which ended yesterday. The Holy Father explained that one of the fundamental contributions of the Church is in the “intellectual dialogue between agnostics and believers.”
Asked about the role the Church plays in a nation where Catholics are a minority, the Pontiff replied that “normally it is the creative minorities that determine the future, and in this sense the Catholic Church must understand itself as a creative minority that has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but a very living and relevant reality. The Church must actualize, be present in the public debate, in our struggle for a true concept of liberty and peace. So it can contribute in various areas. I would say that the first is precisely the intellectual dialogue between agnostics and believers.”
Each person, the Pope continued, “needs the other: the agnostic cannot be content with not knowing whether God exists or not, but must be searching and sense the great heritage of the faith; the Catholic cannot be content with having the faith, but must be searching for God even more, and in dialogue with others re-learn God in a more profound way.”
Education and Caritas
This is the first level: the great intellectual, ethical, and human dialogue,” the Holy Father said. “Then, in the area of education, the Church has a great deal to do and to give, concerning formation. In Italy, we talk about the problem of the educational emergency. It is a problem common to all of the West. Here the Church must again actualize, make concrete, open to the future its great heritage,” he noted.
A third aspect, the Pope said, is the organization Caritas. “This has always been one of the marks of the Church's identity: that of coming to the aid of the poor, of being an instrument of charity.”
“Caritas does a great deal in the Czech Republic, in the different communities, in situations of necessity, and it also offers much to suffering humanity on the different continents, thus giving an example of responsibility for others, of international solidarity, which is one of the conditions for peace,” he pointed out.